Long Forgotten Cave in Romania Harbors Unique Species of Animals
Somewhere, not that far away from the Black Sea’s shoreline in Constanta county, Romania, a cave was discovered back in 1986, which sort of defies the nature of life as we know it. Well, what sets this cave apart from all the rest, and subsequently, the life found within it, is the fact that this cave was sealed off from the outside world for some 5.5 million years, and developed a series of creatures, completely unique from whatever else is out there.
The atmosphere inside is completely alien, being comprised out of high levels of carbon dioxide and hydrogen sulphide, making it unsuited for oxygen-based lifeforms, like you or me. Only a handful of speleologists and scientists were since allowed within it, as not to destabilize the delicate ecosystem that formed within it. Not to mention the fact that this environment is completely poisonous for the rest of us, and people who did get in, required breathing devices to stay alive.
Most creatures in Movile Cave are believed to have arrived over five million years ago when limestone sealed the entrance. Most insects have since adapted to the complete darkness by losing their eyes and pigmentation. Many have also developed longer legs and antennae to feel around in the dark. There are unique species of spiders, water-scorpions, centipedes, pseudo-scorpions, leeches, and more.
Instead of relying mostly on sunlight for its existance, like rest of life does, the animals within the cave depend on chemosynthetic bacteria that extract carbon from the air without the aid of light. The most numerous bacteria use carbon dioxide, and others get their carbon from methane. The bacterial film on the water and walls is where all the nutrients enter this ecosystem, and it’s the only known example of such a system. Small animals eat the slime, and larger animals eat them.
Scientists are interested in the animals in the cave, of course, but the bacteria could provide hints to how life worked when Earth was young. With the high heat, toxic air, and low light, conditions are very similar to Earth billions of years ago. Some are also exploring the idea of repurposing these bacteria to fight global warming, as carbon dioxide and methane are the biggest culprits.